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Practices across three towns close lists amid ongoing GP shortages

Practices across three towns in North Ayrshire, Scotland, have closed their lists to new patients for a year to help relieve pressure caused by recruitment difficulties.

The Health Board and LMC made a joint decision to close lists across eight practices in the Three Towns area, West Kilbride and Kilwinning, covering 57,000 patients.

It comes after a surgery in West Kilbride was taken over by the Health Board at the beginning of August following resignations from all the doctors at the practice, leaving the town with no full-time GP.

Newborn babies, and adopted or fostered children will be able to register with their parent’s practice but people moving into the area will be not be able to choose their GP, and will have one allocated by the Health Board.

The area has struggled to recruit GPs in recent months and the LMC has been working with several practices facing difficulties.

The move ‘allows practices to anticipate the capacity of their service’, NHS Ayrshire and Arran said.

A recent report on workforce issues in North Ayrshire calculated that two newly qualified GPs are needed for every experienced doctor that retires because of young recruits opting for ‘portfolio careers’.

It pointed to high levels of high levels of stress among remaining GPs because of pressures caused by recruitment and retention issues.

Eddie Fraser, director of East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership said: ‘Some GP practices within the North Ayrshire area have experienced recruitment difficulties following the retirement and resignation of some GPs.

‘To help reduce pressure on practices while they recruit GPs, we have agreed with the LMC and with the practices themselves, that they maintain their current practice list.’

He added: ‘We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

‘However, this process will ensure our GP practices continue to provide a full and robust general practitioner service to their patients.’

Dr Chris Black, joint secretary of Ayrshire and Arran LMC, said a number of practices in the areas affected had been having difficulties.

‘We wanted to find a solution that would bring stability to the region and reduce the burden of new patient registrations.’

He said they discussed a range of options with the health board but this was only step they could take within the regulations.

‘This is a unique situation with a group of practices who have shared boundaries,’ he added.

‘Practices are just trying to find ways to deal with the day to day pressures they are facing.’

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